It is with a heavy heart that I write this post. To be quite honest, it’s been a pretty rough few weeks. I normally wouldn’t even write something so personal here, but I need to get it out and share. In the past two weeks, I have had news of two deaths of close relatives. First was my biological father, who passed due to a massive heart attack. And just last Saturday, my grandfather, who was ill with cancer, also exited this world.
I haven’t really mourned, or had time to. My life is hard as a single parent, and keeping it “together” is something I normally do very well. But these two deaths in such a short period of time have left me a bit raw.
Of these two men, I was closest to my grandfather. As a young girl and just recently adopted, my adopted mother decided to move us across country to Virginia where her family lived. So we drove from Montana to Virginia in our red Jeep Cherokee, to a new home and a new family far away from what my sister and I had previously known. Moving can be scary, especially when becoming accustomed to new people and this was no different. Upon arriving to our new home, I remember how the room selection process went, with my sister automatically claiming the first room she saw as hers. Coincidentally, I ended up getting the larger of the two rooms meant for us.
I don’t really remember that first meeting with my new grandmother and grandfather, but I can tell you that they both filled my childhood with much happiness. I remember all of the funny Halloween costumes that my grandfather wore, like the year he dressed up as a ballerina. And the time he dressed up as Dracula and jumped out of a closet, surprising my sister. I remember going over to their house and playing checkers. Or the few times that my sister and I purposefully missed the bus so that my grandfather could drive us to school. Although they acted as our grandparents, to me they were so much more than that.
He was that type of person, somewhat larger than life. I only remember him ever being mad once, and I don’t even remember the details. As I grew up, our relationship changed, as all relationships do. We both shared a love of science and it was through him that I learned about the stars – he even built his own telescope! Although he may not have known it then, he was in a sense a surrogate father, one of a few that I have had over the years. It’s difficult not to look up to someone like him. He was one of the most caring people I’ve ever met, and his presence was always one which inspired happiness and laughter and just an all around feeling of comfort. He always inspired me and was supportive of my dreams and goals. For him, I was an intelligent person, someone who was worthy of love and acceptance. When I heard of his passing recently, it was difficult not to think about all of the things I should have done or could have done with him.
My father, on the other hand, was someone I barely knew. You may laugh at this, but I found him through Facebook. I was speaking with my biological mother on the phone one day when I asked her about him and was able to find a Facebook profile that matched the information she gave me.
Our first telephone conversation was odd – was this really my father? Another unknown had entered my life. While he gushed about how he had missed me and had been trying to find me, doubts were raised in my mind. I found it hard to believe, but I decided that for better or for worse, this must be my father. He wanted me to go visit him in Dallas, but I was never able to get the money together to go out there. We rarely spoke by phone, but some of that may have been due to some very serious issues I was dealing with myself – caught up in bouts of anxiety and depression and having been recently diagnosed with PTSD, I find it not at all surprising that my energy stores were depleted. I just didn’t have the energy to devote to anything – every day was a new battle that left me weary. No situation is ever perfect and I just wish I had been able to get to know him better before he passed.